The New York Mets continue showing why they are they best road team in baseball.
They’ll look to record their seventh straight series victory in Washington on Saturday when they continue a three-game series with the Nationals.
The Mets beat the Nationals 6-2 in Friday’s series opener, improving to a major league-best 36-26 away from home this season. New York (68-53) has won seven of its last nine on the road and is 3-1 on its current six-game trip.
The Mets took two of three in Pittsburgh coming into this series, but lost the finale 10-7 on Thursday after blowing a five-run lead.
“We needed it psychologically, because that was a tough loss,” starter Tom Glavine told the Mets’ official Web site after posting his 301st career win Friday. “You hate giving away leads like that, particularly when you have an opportunity to sweep the series and the pennant race is so tight.”
New York maintained its three-game lead in the NL East over second-place Philadelphia, which beat Pittsburgh. Third-place Atlanta lost to Arizona and fell 4 1/2 games back.
The Mets have made themselves at home in Washington (55-67) recently, going 18-5 at RFK Stadium since the Nationals franchise relocated from Montreal before the 2005 season. New York has swept three three-game sets in Washington, and its only series defeat at RFK came in the team’s first trip there, April 29-May 1, 2005, when it dropped two of three.
“It’s always tough to explain,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “It’s a big ballpark, but we find some holes.”
However, Oliver Perez (10-8, 3.46 ERA), who starts Saturday for New York, has not fared well in Washington.
He is 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA in four career starts against the Nationals, but is 0-2 in the last three—all at RFK. He gave up four runs in seven innings of a 4-3 loss on April 27 in his only start against the Nationals this season.
Perez has allowed 20 runs - 14 earned - in 22 innings in his last four starts, going 1-2 over that span. He gave up four runs in five innings Sunday, but didn’t get a decision in the Mets’ 10-4 win over Florida.
The Nationals, who have dropped five of seven, acquired outfielder Wily Mo Pena in a trade with Boston on Friday. They sent starter Matt Chico, who was charged with Friday’s loss, to Triple-A Columbus to clear a roster spot.
Pena will join the team Saturday and platoon in left field. Washington is hoping he will provide a power bat for an offense that ranks last in the majors with 473 runs.
“We don’t score a lot of runs,” general manager Jim Bowden said. “We don’t have a lot of depth at the higher levels right now, and he’s 25 years old with power. It was an opportunity we couldn’t turn down.”
On Saturday, John Lannan (1-1, 3.00), who started the season in Class A Potomac, will make his fifth major league start for Washington. He gave up one run in seven innings last Saturday, but was outdueled by reigning Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb in a 1-0 loss in Arizona.
“I’m very proud,” Nationals manager Manny Acta said. “I’ve seen Webb do that over and over, but for this kid just a couple of months removed from ‘A’ ball to match him is just a remarkable performance.”
It was the second straight start Lannan has allowed just one run in seven innings. He managed to avoid giving up Barry Bonds’ 756th homer in Washington’s 11-inning, 3-2 loss in San Francisco on Aug. 6.
Lannan is making his first appearance against the Mets.
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